I am often asked why I don’t believe women should have careers outside the home. Why should men get to have an education and a career and women don’t? It’s not fair right?
The first question we need to ask
There are several ways I could answer these questions from a Biblical perspective, but there is a much simpler question that transcends all religions and cultures that I often ask when I am in a room full of people having this discussion.
I usually look to the men and make it very personal.
Your met your wife while you were both attending college and university. You were both enlightened and after all, a woman deserves to have a college education and career just as much as man right? So you both finish college and both begin your careers.
You are both about 25 years old, a few years out of college when your wife tells you she is pregnant. It is the most exciting news of your life, second only to when she agreed to marry you. As the months pass and the baby grows inside of her the question arises “how long will you take off from work when the baby is born?”
She says “well I can’t take off too long or it might damage my career, so I am thinking I will go back to work 6 weeks after I have the baby”. Now if you are an “enlightened” man, this will not disturb you in the least bit, because after all she is just as entitled to her career as you are to yours right?
What is best for infant children?
Except for men and women who have been in my audiences, most people pause and really give this question some consideration. What is best for the young infant – to be cared for by their mother or by strangers while the mother goes off and pursues her career?
Then when many people in my audience say they are unsure – I tell them there is a reason, a God given reason why they give pause to this scenario. We all know that in most cases (except if a mother is abusive or mentally ill) that it is best for a young infant to be nurtured and raised by their mother.
More often than not, the majority of men will agree a mother should be with her infant child to care for them until they can go to school. Maybe half the women will agree and the other half will not.
The women who disagree with the premise that it is best for children to be raised by their mothers (and not daycare workers) will say studies show daycare kids actually do better in school grade wise. To which I respond that while those studies may or may not be true, other studies show that daycare kids(especially ones who have been in daycare since they were infants) have emotional issues and are often much more aggressive in school.
But for those in my audience who agree that it is best that infant children be raised by their mother, I say then that we need to go back and revisit the career issue. If a woman has an average of 3 children (which is what we need to keep the world population from falling, and keep a modest growth rate) then let’s do the math.
If a woman has a child on average every two years, then that means she will spend six years having children. If she stays home to raise each of those infant children (which I agree is best for the children), then her last child will be of full school kindergarten age approximately 11 years after she had her first child.
If she starts having children when she graduates from college at 22, that would make her 33 years old before she could go to work and start a career.
Now let’s say this woman did the right thing and raised all of her children until they were all in school full time. Here is a mid-30’s woman ready to go and conquer the world. There is no problem now right?
Well let’s consider that children have a lot of school activities that involve parental involvement but Dad can start helping with these right? Maybe he can and maybe he can’t. Dad may have a demanding job that keeps him in the office or factory 50 hours a week and he can’t take off every few weeks for school activities during the day (which many elementary schools have).
If Mom goes to work who will be home when the kids get off their bus from school or will they have to be put into a latch key program? Again we must ask the question – which is better for the children, to have a mother waiting for them at home when they get off the bus or to be put in latch key?
If Mom goes to work and Dad also works a demanding job then who will have the time and energy to help the children will all their school work each night? If Mom is exhausted from work who is going to cook dinner? Mom and Dad can just rotate right?
What is better for the children and for her husband?
When the kids go off to school a stay at home mom has the chance to recharge her batteries. She can plan for meals, she can go shopping to get clothing for her children and her husband. Perhaps she can write for a blog from the comfort of her home. She can volunteer to help with things at her church and she is always available if her children or husband need something because she does not have her resources pulled away by an outside career.
When the kids get home from school mom is there to ask them about their day and help them with their homework. She can prepare nice home cooked meals (instead of takeout all the time because Mom and Dad are both exhausted from work). She can cook meals for sick shut-ins at her church. If it does not take away from her mothering duties, she can eventually run a small business selling things out of her home.
The reality is, until the children are grown to adults and move out what is best for her family and her marriage is for her to remain in the home.
But what about what is best for her?
This is the question many feminists will be shouting throughout this discussion. The answer is that what is best for a woman’s family is also what is best for her.
While studies show that women who work outside the home have less stress, what they don’t often show is who they are surveying.
Yes if you were to survey stay at home moms with infant children and toddlers they will often report stress levels that are far higher than women in their same situation with small children that have them in day care and work.
Of course you are less stressed, you are handing your kids off to strangers for 10 hours a day and you get a break to be with the grownups! Stay at home moms have a monumental and sometimes stressful task when they are raising small children. But it is worth it, and it is what is best. The easy way is not always the right way, and this is true when it comes to raising kids.
But if you were to survey stay at home Moms whose kids are all in school full time, I would wager that they will report less stressful lives than the working Moms at that point. They did the hard work, they changed the diapers, and they held the crying babies for hours on end. They also got enjoy the special moments of hearing their children’s first words, seeing them walk for the first time and all the other special firsts that God has given to Moms if they will only accept his gift. They are now reaping the benefits of their wise decision to stay home and dedicate their lives fully to their marriage and family.
When you have raised an emotionally stable child, that has been grounded in your faith and belief, and when you have a happy marriage because you had no career to distract you from giving all of yourself to your husband, you will see that God’s way is best.
God made woman for man, as a helpmeet. She is beautifully and wonderfully equipped for the task of being a full time wife and mom. But when she goes outside of God’s design, and tries to do things that God did not design her for, she will often times bring pain to not only her husband and children, but also to herself.
21 thoughts on “Why I don’t believe women should have careers outside the home”
I appreciate your thoughtfulness and commitment to stay-at-home motherhood. Motherhood is a high & holy calling, and our children all deserve the best we can offer them. I admit that working motherhood can be done poorly, and thus be harmful to the child and family. But it can also be done incredibly well, with intention, thoughtfulness, and purposefulness.
I also believe that the same is true of stay-at-home motherhood. If not done with intentionality, it can be done poorly. For this reason I don’t believe it is the one answer for all mothers. We were all given different gifts. And many children are given the wonderful gift of a stay-at-home mom who is called to this arena, gifted in homemaking, and finds meaning in her calling. And others were given the gift of a mom in the workforce who loves serving outside the home, using her professional gifts, and was given the ability to do working motherhood well.
Because at the end of the day, that’s what our children deserve. A mother who does it well, wherever they are.
Again, I really appreciate and respect your well-thought-out article.
You raise a good issue that I plan on writing another post about – lazy stay at home moms. Believe me I have seen them(my ex wife was one of them and I am only saying that because I am anonymous). Are there working moms who spend more time with their children than other working moms? Absolutely! So you are absolutely correct in asserting there are stay at home moms who do a poor job and working moms who do a poor job.
But even the best working mom who makes the most of the smaller amount of time she has with her children can never compare to a stay at home mom who is fully vested and doing her best with her children – their is absolutely no comparison.
But I guess we will have to agree to disagree about the gift of stay at home motherhood. I believe this is a gift God gives to every mom and it is sad to me when any woman turns it down, or says she doesn’t have the gift. As I said some women have to work for economic reasons beyond their control, that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the women you describe, that believe their gift is to serve strangers at the expense of serving the needs of their own children.
I concur with agreeing to disagree! Thank you for keeping this dialogue open, and doing so in a thoughtful and respectful manner. So often it goes south really quickly – such an important topic that brings out our passions because really, parenting is the most important thing most of us ever do!
I am glad, no EXUBERANT, for my job. I like working. I would never be satisfied as a baby machine.
Thank you for your comment. Can you answer these two questions?
1. For what reasons do you think God gave you a vagina, uterus and ovaries?
2. For what reasons do you think God gave you breasts?
When I was a child, my mother did everything mentioned in this article, yet I hated my childhood. Kids need to be away from their parents. I asked my parents if , they could back off. They agreed. After school, I went to a free child-care provider. I did not get any help with my homework. I spent at most 2 hours with my family a day. Guess what happened? I became emotionally stable. I became happy. My grades improved. I loved my life. That went on unail I left home at 18.
Today, I am a neurosurgeon with three kids. With my first child, I thought that I wold give staying home a chance. I hated it. For five years, I was miserable. I am not a homemaker or a cooker or a nurterur. Our child was not happy, and my partner and I were not happy. I went back to work and took only six weeks off after the birth of my other two children, and our life has been amazing.
I have an IQ of 158. I need to use my brain. In addition, I have first hand experience about what it is like to be a child and mother on both sides of the fence.
I have responded to your story and your question in this post:
I agree with you. My kids are grown, but back when they were toddlers I started working 12 to 14 hours per week at a local library. My kids stayed for the few hours with my husband, my parents, or a mom of one of their friends. It worked out nicely and I had a ton of time for church and school volunteer work.
The statement you made that I might argue with a little, is that a mother who is mentally ill may not be able to be a good stay at home mom. I have struggled with mental illness all my life. It effected my kids somewhat, but overall I think them being with me was fine. Some people with mental illness are totally dysfunctional, but with medication and therapy I did (and do) pretty well.
By mental illness was not saying any amount of mental illness. My mother was bipolar but she was still a good mom despite her flaws.
I am talking about severe mental illness to the point where the mother is psychotic and would hurt the kids or she is so drugged up at all times that she can’t perform her duties as a mom to her kids
biblicalgenderroles, in response to a so-called “Angry egalitarian”, you ask:
“1. For what reasons do you think God gave you a vagina, uterus and ovaries?
2. For what reasons do you think God gave you breasts?”
I would say the answer to the first question is, “To have children.” But then one might ask, “For what reason do you think God gave men a penis and testicles?” Wouldn’t the answer there also be, “To have children?”
Maybe I’m missing something, but why is having children a bigger thing for women than for men, when children always have two parents? If God commanded both Adam and Eve to “Go forth and multiply”, why is having children not a man’s major life goal in the same way that having children is a woman’s major life goal? Can not a man be defined by his children, just as women are defined by their children?
“Your met your wife while you were both attending college and university. You were both enlightened and after all, a woman deserves to have a college education and career just as much as man right?”
I’m not sure I understand these sentences in your thought experiment. I understand your objections to women pursuing a career, but not your objection to women going into higher education: “a woman deserves to have a college education … just as much as man right?” Your tone here seems snide and mocking. (I’m not sure, though – I do have autism. Maybe you meant nothing at all in making that comment.)
Not everyone goes to college or university to further their careers – they go because they love a particular subject and because finding out more about that area of interest gives them pleasure. For example, I am a woman who has just started a Philosophy course at a prestigious university. (To avoid revealing too much personal data, I won’t say which one.) I am not doing this to kick-start a career afterwards; I’m not even entirely sure what I want to do with my life! I’m doing this course because I enjoy thinking about difficult ethical issues and trying to answer questions that don’t have right or wrong answers. Nevertheless, am I committing a horrible sin just by going to university? Even though it allowed me to join their official Christian Union and learn more about God than I have done at any other stage in my life?
Now that I think about it, am I committing a sin by studying Philosophy? A subject that nowadays has no reference to God (who can truly enlighten us regarding our concerns about ethics and free will and whatnot)? A subject that claims not to have right answers, when in reality all the right answers can be found by reading the Bible?
Furthermore, I accept that a woman pursuing a career while married with children is not ideal. But what about a single woman? Until she has a husband, she needs to find a job to pay for her food, right? She can’t just sponge off her parents for however long it takes to bag a man, can she?
God gave this command to both men and women Genesis 1:28 “Be fruitful, and multiply”. So yes the great call to marry and have children is given to both men and women. However the roles that men and women have in carrying out this great commission from God are different.
A man body is equipped to plant the seed of a child. He is not equipped to physically carry that child for nine months to term and then after the child is born is not physically equipped by God with breasts to supply the nutrients to that child. That was God’s perfect design in the Garden of Eden. Now because of the corrupting influence of sin in the world(as I stated in a previous comment to you) some women are barren, others bare children with birth defects, while still others are unable to feed their child from their breasts with the full nutrients they need. But in God’s original design this is how things would have perfectly worked.
So yes both men and women should have as major life goal to have children(be fruitful and multiply), unless God providentially calls them to a life of celibacy. But men and women have different role to play in meeting this major life goal and the Scriptures are clear(as well our own human biology) that women have a much greater role to play in the mission God gave to humanity to “be fruitful and multiply”.
There is no sin in studying and gaining knowledge of various things in the world. I like you am a very curious person. I always was. History was one of my best subjects in school – I never had to be prodded to study it. I loved it. I also loved to study philosophy and theology.
But as Christians we must come to the realization that all man’s wisdom must be measured by the Word of God. If a philosophy does not contradict or has the support of Biblical principles then it is good. If it contradicts God’s word then we dismiss it as false and evil.
But we must realize that education is very expensive and time consuming thing in our day and age. If you can afford this expensive hobby then there is no problem with that. I don’t believe a woman should saddle herself or her future husband with thousands of dollars in education debt simply because she wanted to study various subjects unless she is guaranteed to marry a wealthy to whom this large debt will be no problem.
So do I think it is a sin for you to be going to an expensive university and studying simply for the pleasure of studying? No. But do I think it is wise to incur thousands of dollars in debt to do so that you will saddle yourself and your future husband with? No I do not think it is wise.
There are ways to study and gain wisdom that cost next to nothing. Plenty of libraries and books you can read on your own that will not saddle you with unnecessary debt. One of my favorite theologians – Charles Spurgeon – acquired one the largest private libraries in England. He studied philosophy, history and religion for most of his life. Some people encouraged him to go to college and get his degree and he basically had the philosophy of “Why – can I not read for myself?” He taught himself for decades and became one of the most renowned speaker,philosophers and authors in English history.
I see no issue with a woman working to help her family and keep herself busy while she seeks out a husband. Again as I have stated several times on this blog. The Bible does not condemn women getting an education or working. But God’s command to both men and women is to be fruitful and multiple – in other words seek out marriage and have children. Men and women play different roles in marriage which is why an education and career are something a man should have before he marries so he can properly lead his family. Now an education may not be a college degree – it may be learning a trade which is fine as well. The point is the man should be able to provide for himself and a family. On the other hand while it is not a sin for a woman to go college or university or to work it is a sin for decide she does not want to marry or have children unless God has called her to a celibate life in service to him.
God does not give either men or women a third option to live a selfish life without marriage so that we can serve our own selfish ambitions. We either serve God in our celibacy or we serve God by serving our family in marriage.
So as a woman – you must ask yourself. Is my pursuit of an education simply because I am waiting on a husband? Is my working simply to help my family? Or am I selfishly ambitious to where I care not about the debt I will saddle on my future husband by educational hobbies? If I am working am I do so just to help my family or I am looking to build a career which cause me difficulty in caring for my future husband, my future children or my future home? In other words I am willing to give it all up to be the keeper of my home when God brings me the right man?
If you can answer those questions with a pure intent and not selfish ambition then there is no sin in these things. But if your honest answers are that you are being selfishly ambitious knowing that your ambitions could lead to future conflict and neglect of your marriage and family then need to reevaluate what you are doing.
I think that you might be misunderstanding the discoveries regarding sperm and the female brain. Even the most resilient sperm “dies” after about a week inside the female body, but a protein (NGF) when present in sperm has been found to stimulate the female body into ovulating. The sperm itself isn’t getting anywhere near the brain, and it certainly isn’t staying there, but the nerve growth factor when present in sperm means that ejaculation can stimulate ovulation.
And other proteins in seminal fluids can also aid in pair bonding. But there’s not literal speed in the brain.
I have never heard of sperm making it to a woman’s brain. I have heard of DNA from her male child that she carries making it to her brain and staying there because it is not attacked by her immune system because it is her child. But not a husbands semen. I am not saying you are wrong – I am just curious where your scientific evidence is for this?
Well said! I am a mother to three girls, and over the past 11 years, I’ve worked and stayed home for periods of time. I am currently working in what I thought was my “dream job” as the chief editor of a newspaper, but this decision has brought my family and marriage nothing but pain and stress. My husband and I have prayerfully decided that, after the end of this year, I will stay home again and care for our family, permanently this time. I will not return to work again.
Although our budget is tighter when we don’t have two incomes, we are infinitely happier and, as this is God’s will for our family, He always provides abundantly for us.
hello,I see your point on the needs for a mum to stay home and take care of her infant and kids especially in the first six months but then in some home the father alone cannot cater for the families whole needs and needs his wife to help by having an income that will create comfort for the children.What do you say about a situation like this?
There are times because of poverty and inability to even provide the most basic essentials that both the man and woman will have to work. But this is not God’s ideal – this is not his design. We don’t need vacations, two brand new cars in the drive way and a big nice house. Contrary to popular America dogma – we don’t need our wives to work to provide a college fund for our kids – that is newest excuse of the last couple decades for women working. If it means having a smaller home, used cars instead of new and not being able to take expensive vacations for the family to live on Dad’s income then that is what they should do.
Men get sick, disabled for financial catastrophes befall families requiring the wife to go work. In some nations access to the barest essentials of life are difficult to come by and require both parents to work and providing for the family. But this all happens because we live in a world cursed by sin.
We should always aim for God’s best, his ideal design. That means young couples should never go into marriage with the idea that that she will work and be a co-provider with the husband. This is literally planning to go against God’s design from the very beginning. In fact no man ought to marry until he can provide at least the basic essentials of life for a wife and he has a career path that will lead him to being able to provide for future children.
What about wives that have to work because the husband became disabled? My husband is permanently disabled and I have to work to pay bills. Now, I do have a set schedule and spend a lot of time home and do not work more than my scheduled 40 hours. I wish I could stay home but the disability makes it impossible. What can I do?
I am sorry to hear about your husband becoming disabled. Men die or become disabled because we live in a sin cursed world. And because we live in a sin cursed world sometimes we must take on some responsibilities that God intended for our spouse. I am in the same position as you, my wife became disabled and she has long term neck and back problems that make it very difficult for her to do even the smallest amount of physical labor even around the house. So I do most of the cooking, vacuuming and laundry around our house. Sometimes she will help out by washing the dishes or doing some laundry, but she pays a great physical price for doing so.
So the answer is, you should play the part God has give you to play. He has placed you with a disabled husband in the same way he has placed me with a disabled wife. That means both of us have to do some double duty. You need to come to a full acceptance of this. Don’t feel bad, just pray each day asking God for strength to do what he has called you to do.